Lessons in Queerness

LESSON 1: 

I was talking about my work at Marsh a few days ago with another music student. He told me he didn’t know that I worked at Marsh, and hadn’t foreseen it because I’m a Hindu. I told him that right now I’m working on studying queer theology through an interfaith lens.

“In what world does that exist?” he asked, genuinely curious.

“In my world,” I replied.

There was a lot more I could have added: I never anticipated embracing it myself; I am only just dipping my toes in; it is both an academic and spiritual study. I didn’t say any of them. Maybe, in another conversation with him, I will. But for now I feel small in my knowledge of queer theology, lost, reflective, none of which are conducive to explanatory discourse. I also feel, more deeply than ever, that I am growing. So I embrace it. It is a beautiful thing, this tender growth, like the first unfurling of spring. It is as fragile as any seedling, and as potent as any, too.

LESSON 2: 

Queerness was my first taste of conditional love. It is a powerful thing, queerness, such that people recoil from it. I have always wondered what kind of strange thing it must be, to make a person’s view of you change in a split second, as if you’ve revealed yourself to be an entirely different person. It’s such a vulgar question: if you knew, what would you think? It makes my insides churn.

Within the act of revealing there is inherently a revelation. I claim it unto myself. If I do not, somebody else will use it against me.

LESSON 3:

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Angels in America, Tony Kushner

SEEK SOMETHING NEW, Hannah Pitt says, so bold that it takes my breath away.

As it turns out, people use religious backing to say a lot of nasty things about queer people. The biggest is shame. As if queerness is inherently sexual, naturally wrong, a revulsion, and by extension I too am all of these things. The tiny diya inside of me wavers, a small flame in the wind of the soul. Faith is a terrifying creature, because it implies that I could be carried, but I could also be let down.

When the first two lessons the world teaches you about queerness are conditional love and shame, it is hard to allow yourself the desire to be carried. It is much, much easier to tuck queerness in one pocket and God in the other, and never let them touch. One is ugly and one is pure and I am never quite sure which is what.

Right now? This is me, seeking a thread to stitch them together. Because this is my first step. A belief in that thread. I choose it. I will let it carry me forward.

LESSON 4:

God is one in whom all beings dwell and one who dwells in all beings, the Vishnu Sahasranama says. I believe this. I choose this belief.

 असतो मा सद्गमय ।, I have prayed for years and years every night: keep me not in unreality, but lead me towards Reality. I believe this, too. I choose this belief.

तुम करुणा के सागर,
तुम पालनकर्ता,
स्वामी तुम पालनकर्ता |

You are the ocean of Compassion, / You are the nurturer of everyone, / Swami, You are the nurturer of everyone, says the aarti prayer.

I am so sure that this is unconditional love. I am so sure that this is pride. And I choose this belief. 

LESSON 5: 

I am so sure, unsteady but sure. I learn and I unlearn, I carry and I am carried. And, Lord, let me continue to grow. Inside me there is a relentless spring.

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